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Copyright Resources for Faculty: Home

Please note that librarians cannot give legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact an intellectual property attorney. The resources listed here are to help you make your own decisions regarding copyright, fair use, and other types of licensing within an educational setting.


Copyright Basics

Most works are protected by copyright
Almost all creative and intellectual work is protected by copyright.  Remember that facts are not subject to copyright.

Copyright is automatic
Works are not required to display a copyright notice or be registered in any way in order to be protected by copyright. This means that everything from a novel to a napkin doodle has full and automatic copyright protections.

Copyright lasts a long time...
Works are protected for the life of the author, plus seventy years. If a work was “made for hire.” it is protected for 95 years from publication or 120 years from the creation of the work (whichever is less). The rules are different for works made before 1978 and are very complicated. Try this copyright slider from the Copyright Advisory Network when in doubt.

...but not forever
Works with expired copyright pass into the public domain and are available to be used in whatever way you’d like. Also not protected by copyright are works created by the US government (and some states), facts, ideas, and methods.

Attribution: Information above is adapted from Portland CC Library's Copyright Resources guide and is licensed by Portland Community College under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

More About Copyright Basics

Copyright Tools

Many different organizations have developed tools and checklists to help with questions about copyright and fair use. See below for a selection of a few of these tools.


Portions of this guide are adapted from the "Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons" page created by the Pitt Community College Library.

Copyright, Fair Use, and Education

While copyright law protects works from unauthorized copying or use, the legal doctrine of "Fair Use" allows the use of copyrighted works without a license in certain circumstances. U.S. copyright law outlines the four factors used to determine if a protected work falls under fair use in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Code.

  1. Purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Source: “U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index.” Copyright.Gov, U.S. Copyright Office, Feb. 2023,

Copyright for Specific Formats

More Resources

Need help?  Contact the VGCC Library.